Units from multiple central Ohio jurisdictions responded to Congregation Beth Tikvah in Worthington on Thursday morning, March 9, after a scare over a suspicious package.
After more than two hours, police and fire personnel felt the item was simply an oddly shaped "art" project by a child at the congregation's day care.
But hours later, Worthington investigators are now working to determine whether the “art” was an intentional hoax. Security camera footage and other evidence is being assessed, and the case is considered an open investigation.
About 9 a.m., Worthington police responded to a call from a woman involved with the day care. She told police a suspicious item was found on a desk in the foyer of the synagogue at 6121 Olentangy River Road.
According to Worthington police Sgt. James Moran, Worthington officers were the first to respond to the call, but the suspicious-package case quickly fell under the jurisdiction of fire personnel.
Soon, the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Columbus Divisions of Fire and Police and Worthington Division of Fire units had converged at Beth Tikvah.
Moran said the department wasn't taking any risks in the situation, leading them to involve multiple entities.
"Based on the way it looked, we thought it would be best to call Columbus," he said.
Canine units from Columbus fire, the highway patrol and the Ohio State University swept the area, and by 11 a.m., a bomb squad from Columbus had used a remote-controlled robot to scan the box, assuring that it posed no threat.
Moran wasn't sure what to call the object, which he described as 4 inches tall and 4 inches wide and wrapped in masking tape, but he said officers initially believed the item was not intended to look like anything dangerous.
"It was something that a 2- or 3-year-old would probably think looked like artwork," he said.
Despite that initial ruling, Worthington officers are still investigating, and have not released a photo of the item.
Moran said Beth Tikvah day care children were evacuated quickly after the call and said although no danger was present, he appreciated the way the departments worked together and that evacuation and security processes worked well.
"In the current climate, you can't take that stuff lightly," he said. "If nothing else, it was a good training scenario for us."